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12 Steps to Negotiating Your Ideal Severance Package

Whether you are reading this article because you have received your layoff notice or because you are preparing for the "rumored" terminations, you are in the right place to learn how to effectively negotiate your severance package. Although layoffs present you with great challenges, the severance package is an opportunity to receive some much needed support for your transition. Therefore, it is important that you enter the negotiations with the right mindset that will give you an advantage for acquiring a package that is suitable for you.

Here are 12 steps to negotiating your ideal severance package:

1. Pray and ask God to lead you and to help you to prepare your heart for the negotiation process.

Be strong and courageous!

Be shrewd as a snake but as innocent as a dove!

Be filled with the Holy Spirit!

Put the whole armor of God on!

2. Check your employment contract and company policies to see if there is any verbiage that relates to severance pay, and also review your state laws or federal laws that apply to severance packages.

3. Understand the terms of your severance package: Before you begin negotiating, make sure you understand the terms of the severance package being offered, including the length of the payout, any benefits that will continue, and any restrictions on future employment. If you need help understanding the severance or have questions, contact your organization’s HR, EAP, or Legal Counsel, your union representative, or an attorney.

4. Understand your professional value and the contributions you have made to the company. Reflect on your accomplishments and develop a well-prepared and persuasive argument, then be prepared to discuss them during the negotiation.

5. Research your industry’s standards regarding severance packages and be realistic about what you are asking for. Remember the goal is to reach an agreement that is fair and beneficial for both parties.

6. Take the time to review the severance agreement and make sure you understand all the terms and conditions before signing. Be sure to request more time if you need it.

7. Take some time to decide what your priorities are, what you are willing to give up, and what you are not willing to compromise on. Let your needs guide your negotiation.

8. Be honest about your needs: If you are not satisfied with the severance package being offered, ask for additional benefits, such as outplacement services, job search assistance, or a glowing recommendation. You may also ask for time restrictions on noncompete to be shortened.

9. Remember that this is a business negotiation, and you should remain professional, calm, and respectful throughout the process. Your getting angry will only encourage the organization to do the bare minimum.

10. If you are laid off, your employer may offer you the option of continuing your health care coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) for a certain period of time. Take advantage of it.

11. Be patient and appreciative. Why? You’re being laid off, not fired. As such, you have benefits and other support to make the transition to a new job easier and reward you for good performance. With the right mindset and by being intentional, you can negotiate a great severance.

12. Remain positive. Go into the negotiation meeting expecting for things to work out in your favor. And when the negotiations are complete, trust that God will provide all that you need, regardless of what the organization will or will not do. God is your source; the organization is simply a re-source.

I'm sorry you're experiencing a layoff. Unplanned change can be difficult to embrace. However, you must remember and cling to this:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” -Romans 8:28



Dr. Wanita Mercer, Ph.D. is the founder and CEO of Lead My Heart, an executive coaching and consulting company specializing in spiritual leadership, change, and communication strategies. She has a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in organizational leadership from University of the Incarnate Word, and she is a certified change management specialist and management executive. She has over 15 years of experience as an international educator, motivational speaker, and author. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.


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